“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”
– Dr. Who, The Big Bang
“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.”
– Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You
There are certain things that stick with us our entire lives. Sometimes we’re able to choose what these things are. If I had my way, writing and fitness would be along for the ride as long as I’m capable of either. I know various faculties start to break down sooner or later. I know there are risks and dangers I can’t really control, even if I try to maintain the illusion of such for a while.
In the meantime, I do the best I can to improve my writing. I do the best I can to be healthy, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually…because it affects every facet of my life in the long run. And one of the things I have no choice about is the body I’m stuck with until the day I die (may that be a long time in coming).
The one choice I do have? How I treat my body until then.
You have the same choice. Maybe it won’t ever matter to you how much you can bench press. Maybe it won’t ever matter whether you finish a race or not. Maybe knowing your specific body fat percentage just doesn’t play a factor in the long game.
All those things are, in the end, personal milestones or thresholds you can choose to adopt or ignore. Your goals are yours. Your definition of success is yours. What you decide to invest in your health is up to you and no one else.
When I choose to pursue a healthier lifestyle, it’s an investment in my well-being. When I choose to go to the gym, it’s a reminder that my efforts matter. When I make myself a good meal, it’s a way of thanking my body for not collapsing into a shambles of blood and tears.
Even then, when I give myself time to rest, when I reward myself with a special treat, when I occasionally sleep in until noon…those are also ways I let myself just be human.
It’s my belief that fitness and health should be a priority. You may decide differently, or you may put those pursuits lower on the to-do list than I do, for whatever reason. That’s fine, and don’t let anyone else guilt or shame you about that. While fitness and health can be parts of your identity, they shouldn’t dictate it.
If the ability to be physically active is taken from me, whether by injury, illness, or any other undesirable circumstance, I will still be me. I will still matter and I will still find ways to persist. At my core, my worth or value as a person is not defined by my waistline, my running mileage, or my muscles. It’s inherent.
The same is true for you.
Let’s never forget that.